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Dos Passos and Cornelius

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  • Dos Passos and Cornelius


    I thought I'd asked this question several years ago, but I can't find a record of one on the site...

    I've always been struck by the similarity of the layout of USA by John Dos Passos (actually three novels in one volume, I have it in the Penguin edition) and that of The Cornelius Chronicles in the one volume Avon paperback.

    USA has 'Newsreel' and 'Camera Eye' sections scattered throughout the text, just as Cornelius has the various news items preceding chapters. USA also has the text broken up into small sections, often preceded by the name of one of the characters etc.

    USA is very much more conventional in its subject matter and style than Cornelius of course, but I'm wondering if it was a conscious (or unconscious) influence on you when writing the Cornelius books to create the 'look' of the text, as for example Bester was in parts of The Black Corridor?

    Here's some background on USA, for those unfamiliar with it:

    USA (Wikipedia)
    Last edited by Marca; 01-24-2011, 01:45 PM.
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

  • #2
    Intriguing, Marca, as the event on Saturday talked a lot about surrealist influence and from what is written in Wiki. There seems some good connections, in Paris at the time of the Surrealist movement, also he's place of birth being Chicago and maybe links to the 60's surrealist movement there.

    Also interesting are the titles, which come as no surprise to Rush fans and there is mention of connections to John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, which I greatly enjoyed.

    Hmmmm. Surrey library did have a copy, but no more.
    Papa was a Rolling Stone......


    • #3
      I wasn't that familiar with Dos Pasos as far as I know. I had read a lot of stuff mentioning him and if I looked at him in a bookshop or library I don't remember. John was consciously basing his technique in Zanzibar (which I first read at his house for New Worlds) well after I became familiar with the technique either via him or via the original. I very much liked the method but I'd started to write Jerry Cornelius a little bit earlier and preferred my use of ironic rather than exemplary headlines and cuttings. I give my influences in at least one of the quartet. My guess is if he's not there he didn't figure consciously in any design.

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